Dr. Rachel Levine was confirmed today by the U.S. Senate as assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services.
By a vote of 52-48, Levine made history as the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) voted yes along with all Senate Democrats.
Levine was previously Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, where she led the commonwealth’s COVID-19 response.
LGBTQ advocacy groups applauded the news.
Liz Seaton, policy director for the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund:
“Her qualifications as a physician and Surgeon General of Pennsylvania and her experience dealing with the public health issues affecting our country today made her an incredibly qualified candidate for this position. Our country will be in good hands as we face unprecedented health challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic to the epidemic of opioid addiction and the longstanding HIV/AIDS epidemic.”
Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings:
“The Senate’s confirmation of Dr. Levine marks the return of science, competence, and empathy to one of the most important institutions in our government and at one of the most critical public health moments in our nation’s history. Throughout her impressive career as a doctor and public servant, Dr. Levine has demonstrated a commitment to equity in health care and an understanding of how public health is inextricably linked to social justice.”
And Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said the following about her confirmation:
“President Biden committed to appointing our nation’s most qualified leaders to tackle the pandemic and he delivered in choosing Dr. Levine.
“Yet the importance of this moment extends well-beyond the health of our nation alone. At a time when hateful politicians are weaponizing trans lives for their own perceived political gain, Dr. Levine’s confirmation lends focus to the contributions trans people make to our nation and deflates absurd arguments calling for their exclusion.
“Her experience leading the health department in Pennsylvania will serve our country well and her unique perspective regarding healthcare for trans people will be invaluable.”
History made: Dr. Rachel Levine was just confirmed as the next Assistant Secretary for Health, becoming the first-ever openly transgender federal official confirmed by the Senate.
Trans people are leaders, innovators and change-makers — and we deserve a seat at every table. pic.twitter.com/bNotSqaWDu
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) March 24, 2021